Saturday, November 21, 2009

Farewell to the Grey Bullet on the Eve of Thanksgiving

We lost one of our cats yesterday. Annabel, our lovely 19-year old and perhaps the sweetest cat I've ever known, became suddenly ill and we learned to our dismay that it was a fast-moving cancer. It was a tremendously hard thing to do but for her sake and her comfort, my wife and I sat gently stroking her fur as she purred quietly and finally went to sleep for the last time in the vet's office.

The last 36 hours have been so strange. She's been a central part of my everyday life for more than 9 years and I first met her when she was just a kitten. For my wife, Annabel was a beloved companion since she was 4 weeks old, almost half my wife's life. I walk in the house expecting to see her. We still have her pill schedule on a white board in the kitchen and I can't bring myself to erase it. She was doing so well, perhaps a little arthritic, maybe suffering from a bit of kitty senility most notably when she'd forget where we were, but for a cat who was 19 years, 4 months old, she was in pretty good shape and we thought we had more time.

Sadly we didn't. It happened so fast that I'm still trying to wrap my head around it. I tried to put it in words earlier today on my other blog, on which I'm recording our progress toward the hoped-for adoption of a little girl. It didn't help with my grief. In fact, my efforts simply reinforced how important Annabel was in our life. Until we made the decision to try and adopt earlier this year, our cats and any future pets were our children. They were as close as we were going to get. The act of losing one creates a void and an aching feeling of incompleteness around the house and in my view of my world.

This has been, in many ways, a dreadful year. My grandmother passed away, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, my folks lost their wonderful dog Maggie to a fast-moving cancer, and now we said goodbye to Annabel.

In a matter of days, we'll be celebrating Thanksgiving and happily, my mother will be there bustling about my sister's kitchen helping with food prep, doting on her granddaughters, and mercifully cancer-free following her final radiation treatment in just 72 hours. My grandmother won't be there and we'll all feel her absence. But with my grandmother, Annabel, and Maggie, I'll be so thankful this Thursday to have had them in my life for as long as I did. They added color and humor and just a bit of slobber (Annabel and Maggie, not my grandmother) and won't be forgotten.

It doesn't make up for their loss but it's a start.

May you, your families, your friends, your pets, and all of your loved ones have a very happy and healthy Thanksgiving next week.

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